Three takeaways from Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday launched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to nearly inevitable status in their dashes for presidential nominations. That made ever clearer that one of America’s two most unloved politicians is likely bound for the Oval Office.
“Brutal Battle Brews” declared The Drudge Report.
The Hill quoted an unnamed “longtime friend Clinton” who for some reason needed to stay anonymous to paint the race as “a case of the smartest person in the room” — Clinton, by this secret pal’s assessment — “against the class clown.”
Trump, meantime, held a press conference in a gilded ballroom and suggested that the former Secretary of State might not be around for the November vote if troubles over her official emails evolve to the level of indictment.
“What she did,” said Trump, “is a criminal act.”
So one’s a Bozo, and the other will have to post bond? #Election2016.
Trump didn’t do quite as well as polls had predicted. Clinton also failed to sweep as thoroughly as expected. But the campaign now moves largely beyond an expectations game and into a game of delegate math. The frontrunners’ leads are growing quickly and polls suggest that will continue.
That only agitated angst among a great swath of the Republican Party. Its hopes of stopping Trump’s political interloping look to be fading.
Yet calls remain for some of the candidates trailing him to jump out, so that another might beat him one-on-one.
Said the conservative RedState.com: “Other than self-immolation, literal or figurative, the only way that Trump is going to be stopped is by a) consolidating the field, b) creating a contested convention by preventing Trump from winning on the first ballot, or c) by a mythical third party.”
Speculation about how conventional Republicans will deal with Trump’s unconventional candidacy, and him as their nominee, has been bubbling up with increasing regularity. On Wednesday morning, Politico wrote of the “almost impossible political task” for House and Senate leaders: “strategically distancing themselves from the Republican standard-bearer, keeping a close watch on their party’s brand — all the while trying to keep Congress in GOP hands.”
The Democratic establishment looks less anxious. Clinton has always been the favorite. She now just looks more so. Sure, Sen. Bernie Sanders won home-state Vermont along with Colorado, Oklahoma and Minnesota. And he’s likely to stick around. But he’s not likely to win. His showing Tuesday did nothing for his odds on betting markets, where he still ranks only a 3 percent chance at the nomination.
Likewise, Ted Cruz won at home in Texas, in next-door Oklahoma and Alaska, but Trump lapped him and Marco Rubio in the delegate count. Consequently, gamblers give the New Yorker an 82 percent chance at the nomination.
The prospect of a Trump/Clinton autumn triggered mourning in America.
Both Clinton and Trump suffer from negative favorability ratings — meaning while they’re proving more electable than their primary opponents, more people dislike than like the two.
A CNN/ORC International poll conducted in late February shows Clinton leading Trump (in an increasingly not-so-hypothetical November throwdown) 52 percent to 44 percent.
Even the pollsters who conduct such hypotheticals are quick to dismiss them. Much of the electorate hasn’t yet tuned into the race. Who knows how the candidates will respond to each other? They both could do brilliant, or moronic things, in the months to come.
Well before the Super Tuesday results, The New York Times reported, the Clinton camp began looking for ways to battle with the unorthodox pol that is Trump.
“But the tactics the Clintons have used for years to take down opponents may fall short in a contest between the blunt and unpredictable Mr. Trump and the cautious and scripted Mrs. Clinton: a matchup that operatives on both sides predicted would be an epic, ugly clash between two vastly disparate politicians,” the Times wrote.
In that same story, Obama campaign strategist said that while hope and change served as the Democrats’ buzz words in 2008, a Trump-Clinton showdown figures to be “more like hate and castrate.”
The world’s search engines promoted their data as political tea leaves. In some past primaries, they said, the most-searched candidates tended to draw the most votes. On Tuesday, that measure was mostly on target, but hardly reliable. People searched most about Trump and he drew the most votes. But there’s some caveats. In Texas, for instance, Trump led in searches and yet Cruz won. But depending on the time of day, either Cruz or Rubio ranked second in Google searches from the Lone Star state.
And curiosity about Sanders in Texas topped Clinton, while she took the state.
For what it’s worth, if the fate of the country could be predicted by searches on Bing, then start practicing saying President Trump.
One last geeky thing. The Wikimedia blog looked at page views at the candidates’ open-sourced pages Wikipedia — the place to go for a quick explanation put together with probably-right-but-not-necessarily-so information.
For starters, the page shows that people in Republican areas appear most interested in GOP candidates, while those from traditionally blue areas sought out answers about the Democrats.
The analysis also suggested the Trump and Sanders pages drew more clicks, perhaps unsurprising given that the two ostensible outsiders are the newest, rising faces to national politics.
Red arrows represent Republican debates, and blue arrows represent Democratic debates.
Let’s also take a moment to acknowledge the schadenfreude generated by Chris Christie. He fell out of the race a few weeks ago, then endorsed Trump after months of listing all the reasons he thought Trump would make an awful president.
Tuesday night, he introduced the man at the real estate mogul’s gaudy Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Then he stood, seemingly uncomfortable, behind Trump’s shoulder for a long press conference.
Many on Twitter joked that the statement he read felt like the words of a hostage.
It was, um, awkward. Which, for the Internet, is glee.